BREAKING NEWS: The Passing of a Rebel
One of Hollywood's greatest hellraisers, character actor and former director Dennis Hopper, best known for his co-starring role in the iconic biker epic Easy Rider, which he himself directed, has died at the age of 74, following several months battling complications resulting from prostate cancer.
Reuters reports that the death, confirmed by a family friend, Alex Hitz, occured at approximately 8:15 p.m., Los Angeles time, with Hopper surrounded by family members and other friends.
In a career spanning some 50 years, Hopper appeared alongside his mentor and fellow teen-movie legend, James Dean, in two of Dean's three films, Rebel Without a Cause and Giant, during the 1950s. Ultimately, Hopper made the role of the deranged maniac his own, with roles is such films as Apocalypse Now, Blue Velvet, and Speed.
Hopper was twice nominated for Academy Awards; the first, for co-writing Easy Rider with his co-star Peter Fonda and screenwriter Terry Southern; and secondly, for a rare heartwarming performance as a drunk high-school basketball coach in Hoosiers.
Easy Rider, considered by the American Film Institute as one of the true legends of modern American cinema, helped launch a new era wherein Hollywood's "old guard" was forced into surrendering its power and influence to the likes of such then younger filmmakers as Francis Ford Coppola, Steven Spielberg, and Martin Scorsese. The low-budget biker drama, conceived by Fonda, brought the mainstream world of pot-smoking, cocaine-dealing, long-bearded Harley-Davidson ridin' bikers to life, while adding a major chapter to the Harley legend.
Hopper fell ill last September, continuing to work almost to the very end, both on his cable TV series Crash and on a book showcasing his style as a photojournalist. His final months, however, were consumed by a bitter divorce battle with his fifth wife, Victoria Duffy.
Hopper leaves behind four children from each of his five marriages.